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Daughter of Horror

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Daughter of Horror

Publication date 1955
Publisher H.K.F. Productions
Also known as Dementia.

You can find more information regarding this film on its IMDb page.


Reviewer: DxPendleton - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 20, 2016
Subject: Touch of Evil meets Eraserhead
I was very surprised at the quality of the cinematography in the film. It was certainly engaging in spite of the cheesy narrator.

A psychological thriller that ends where it begins. I would give it high praise for elevating a low budget film to quality visual entertainment.

I recommend it.
Reviewer: Cinemafou - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 20, 2013
Subject: Restoration of Soundtrack
This film is an abstract expressionist take on a dark and disturbing subject. Not for all tastes, but I find it entrancing. A masterpiece. The original soundtrack is brilliant, with music that sounds like it was composed by Alban Berg.

Then some knuckleheads thought it needed some narration thrown in here and there. The narration, as has been noted elsewhere on this site, is a distracting annoyance and detracts from the film. So how can you watch it with the original soundtrack but without that imbecilic narration? I found a way, although my method is crude and results a little choppy.

I ported the video file to a WAV file and opened it in Audacity. Whenever that stupid voice appeared, I selected that portion of the audio stream and set it to silent. Then I copied a nearby portion of sound equivalent in time and pasted over the silent portion. I used VirtualDub to apply the modified soundtrack to the video. Resulting sound track is narration free! It could use some tweaking, since the music I pasted doesn't always suit the moment, but it is a giant step.

If I have time and figure out how to do so, I will see if I can upload it. But this is something you can do yourself.
Reviewer: Furrows - - February 12, 2012
Subject: narrator confirmation
VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever confirms the narrator is Ed McMahon. So unless there is a conspiracy theory about the VideoHound, the question is answered. No rating from me yet - haven't watched.
Reviewer: iceman bob - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 2, 2012
Subject: new music
This is a superb visual film that was totally ruined by the voiceover narration. In order to get it back to a visual/music only piece, I stripped the narration and added a soundtrack of my own making. If interested, you can see (and hear)the result here:
Reviewer: jeffzkrazie - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 4, 2011
Subject: Actually it is an awesome horror film!
One of my favorites of all time! Mucho Awesomeness!
Reviewer: USABG58 - favoritefavorite - August 10, 2011
Subject: Really?!!!!
This movie is not all THAT great, -come on!-. It's OK. I mean, in the grand scheme of horror movies, it's definitely not a five star, or a four, or a three... but not bad. Maybe for that year, it was a really good movie.
By the way, sure that's not Lesslie Nelson on the voice-over at the beginning?
Reviewer: Super YiaYia - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 9, 2011
Daughter of Horror (PLEASE USE THIS REVIEW)

I have watched horror/scary movies for ever. This is the Best Horror movie ever. I could not take my eyes off of the screen. I was mesmorised.(sp correct) That does not happen very often, usually I press stop, then start, get a tea and snack, you know.

Every single actor was excellent. I cannot imagine any other actors doing this movie. The camera man blew me away. Just the way it was filmed, I just don't know what to say!! A closeup here, then a long shot, an so on.

The director did some neat stuff, and when you watch it you will understand why. I have to mention 2 scenes with the rich man; The way he looked at the dancing girl was exactly the way he looked at his meal. Not sure what he enjoyed more?

I will watch this a few more times I am sure. Anyone who likes horror, must see this, I swear for awhile I thought it was me.


Just saying.......
Reviewer: ACT1 NowPlaying - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 6, 2011
Subject: A Work of Art - Five Star Horror
What a Great way to pull off a silent movie in the mid fifties.
This is now one of my all time favorite Horror flicks and I am streaming it is a unique way on my site at - with classic trailers, comnmercials, shorts and other extras.
It's the best of the archive in a special way.
Thanks for posting.
Reviewer: babe917 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 20, 2010
Subject: great imagery!
this film is great visually like others have said! i do really like the story as well. going insane and killing, and then retreating into her mind for comfort. the ending was a blast as well!!

only thing i could of lived without was ed's voiceover. but i guess that, the eerie music, & the imagery make this film overall creepy! which is way fun in my book!!

plus i was always curious in seeing this movie ever since i saw a part of it in the classic The Blob in the movie theater scene!
Reviewer: nighthouse66 - favoritefavoritefavorite - November 2, 2010
Subject: Great Visually.....
This didn't really work as a narrative, but as a visual piece, it was excellent. It would be an interesting exercise to rewrite what is happening, build a narrative from the visual and maybe even reorder it.
For those wondering, alot of this is filmed in Venice CA. I used to live there- there is even a scene where you can see a street sign that says "Washington Boulevard". "Touch of Evil "was also filmed there and was back in the days when Venice was the poor man's beach town, not the tony boho enclave it is today.
Reviewer: helpdeskdan - favoritefavorite - October 25, 2009
Subject: Would have been a good SILENT MOVIE
Wow... that's just horrible. However, it had potential:

As others have said, the voice over ruins it - it's just horrible. The music is effective though, especially the band(despite the annoying soprano). If somebody could dub the original soundtrack on this without the voice over, it might actually be pretty decent
Reviewer: Plan 9 - - February 3, 2009
Subject: I'm Sorry; I had hoped to be able to upload Dementia, BUT...

Type of Work: Motion Picture
Registration Number / Date: RE0000092948 / 1981-05-18
Renewal registration for: LP0000012505 / 1953-12-01
Title: Dementia. By John Parker.
Copyright Claimant: Raymond Rohauer (PWH)

Variant title: Dementia.

However, it is nice to think that Mr. Parker (or his heirs) may finally be enjoying the fruits of his labor...
Reviewer: Marty E - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 1, 2009
Subject: Brilliant Music
The key to this movie is the great music and singing of Marni Nixon. The film's expresionistic noir style is beautiful even if the basic story is done in a corny, very low budget fashion.
The music was written by Geore Antheil with musical direction by Ernest Gold. Gold was most famous for writing the music to the movie "Exodus." That's how Marni Nixon got involved. She was married to Gold at the time and I guess they needed the money. I recently had e mail conversations with her about "Dementia" and she knows almost nothing about it except she had a blast recording it. She hadn't seen the movie before recording the score (she improvised some the singing based on the basic writing of the score.) After the film was released she still hadn't seen it. She finally saw it only in the last few years.
The other part of the music is the Shorty Rogers jazz club scene. He was a leader of the west coast jazz scene in the late 40's and early 50's. What I'm trying to confirm is if the French horn player was Sandy Siegelstein who played on Miles Davis "Birth of the Cool." He was my high school band director and it looks like him, but I'm not sure. I'd love to find out.
Having orginally seen the movie in 1972 and being blown away by the music, I've since been trying to learn as much about "Dementia" as possible. Not an easy task.
Reviewer: Campfire - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 12, 2008
Subject: Is it MaMahon?
I keep hearing that Ed McMahon was the narrator on this film, but I can't help wondering if that isn't one of those "internet legends" that everyone "knows" but no one has any basis for? When the film was made in California, McMahon was still gainfully employed in Philadelphia. Further, when I listen to the film, I don't hear the faintest hint of McMahon's familiar and distinctive voice and speaking pattern. Is there any documentation of this, or does everyone know it simply because everyone knows it?
Reviewer: radioflyer - favoritefavorite - November 11, 2008
Subject: Oy.
This was almost too awful to even be amusing. The only high point for me was during the chase scene with the police when the annoying soprano got to change the tempo of her eerie opera singing.

And as for our leading lady, I've seen more convincing facial expressions on pumpkins.

What a dog of a movie. But I won't give it the lowest rating out of respect for Mr. MacMahon, who came perilously close to lapsing into "Hey-O!" only once.
Reviewer: OnyxDragon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 22, 2008
Subject: "Dementia"
"Dementia" is the non-narrated version of this film. I refuse to watch the Ed McMahon narrated version, the one hear. A personal choice, because the silent version is an absolutely amazing experience in surrealism and I don't want someone narrating to me what it all means.

I give this a high rating, not for this version, but for "Dementia." It's superb and you should also watch the Criterion DVD, because it has pages upon pages of censorship documents. The filmmaker (a one-timer with this film) went through a lot of headaches to get his film, the way he wanted it, out there. He did not censor his film, but after a few years released it when the censor board loosened their grip.

I am extremely saddened the only film we can watch this fine young woman in is "Dementia." She was the secretary of the one-time filmmaker, and this is the only film credited to her. A shame, because I really enjoyed her presence and performance in this film.

"Dementia" is a rare, obscure and unique piece of art. "Daughter of Horror" is a shame. I would appreciate it, if we could get the director's cut up.
Reviewer: Athanatos - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 29, 2007
This movie is essentially a *great* silent film with very *unfortunate* added narration. (I appreciate that the score could add a lot to the experience, but the narrative then subtracts more than would be added by the score.) My suggestion is that viewers therefore first watch the film with the audio turned off.
Reviewer: Gregoreuo - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 28, 2007
Subject: Likeable in a strange way!
I actually enjoyed this film. The acting was a bit stiff but the atmosphere of the film was pretty well done. Where the movies of today rely upon blood and gore to the extreme for entertainment, this one makes you use your imagination much more sort of like a radio drama. It draws you into the character's minds and with the lighting, the music and props used it becomes a film takes on a demented and macabre atmosphere without the gore and mayhem. Well done.
Reviewer: filmsplice - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 28, 2007
Subject: An interesting experiment
I've no need to be harsh about this film; it is pretty unusual, and not bad at all (save, perhaps, for the narration). I like its weirdness and flawed ambition, and the visuals are quite accomplished. The title may have deceived some into expecting something else, and that was likely the reason for its title change in the '50s--to gain more attention. Basically free of onscreen dialogue, it's a POV descent into the filmmakers' version of a character's purported madness, and the reasons for that condition (though in this sense surely without the demented humor of something like Maniac). I'd recommend Daughter to fans of Carnival Of Souls and Night Tide (is this one PD? If so, it should be here...) for its moody trip.
Reviewer: beirwer - favorite - April 8, 2007
Subject: Utter garbage.
"Do you know what horror is?". Yeah, and this ain't it. The narrator sounds like Count Floyd from SCTV - "ooooh, scary". Adrienne Barrett is unconvincing as anyone demented, deranged, delusional, or suffering from any other serious mental illness. In fact she merely lapses back and forth between acting like someone's dull Aunt Jane and some dour goth chick. The sequence in the graveyard first seems to be introducing some semblance of order, but it doesn't. A cameo by Frodo at 39:35 was hilarious, but not near enough to save this mess. From there the whole thing quickly degenerates through pretentious to ludicrous to boring, finally ending with the lame, tired, "it was just a dream.... or was it?" trick.

This is one of all too many movies that demonstrate what I call "The Emperor's New Clothes syndrome" of film. It's the kind of movie that college film students or some other types seem to like (for whatever reasons) which earns it an undeserved reputation as misunderstood art. Sorry, but no, this is not art, or avant garde, or "so bad it's good", or even so bad it's funny. It's just a big steaming pile of crap.
Reviewer: afn01288 - favorite - April 25, 2006
Subject: Horrorible
One of the WORST films I've ever seen. It is weird--not offbeat weird, not interesting--just totally whacked! Don't waste your time; this is not a classic, not a fantastic find, just plain stupid.

The deranged woman goes through several strange interactions. She spends a good portion of the movie watching a fat man eating chicken. The pacing and and narrative are bizarre. I like odd films, but this one is not even worth the trouble of downloading.
Reviewer: nephildevil - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 17, 2005
Subject: AWESOME!
WoW! I'm impressed with this vintage horror movie! Dementia, The Daughter of Horror, is a very dark movie with nothing but deranged nightlife and eerie music, sometimes accompanied by insane laughter as the only sound. Well ok it also has a narrator, he's the cool but funny part :D. It is about a woman's insanity and insomnia.
Reviewer: Ella Greggs - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 3, 2005
Subject: The 'Citizen Kane' of Horror Movies
Visually striking -- what Orsen Wells would have produced if he'd made a Citizen Kane-style horror movie. The graveyard sequence is especially effective. The sexual imagery is particularly interesting -- simultaneously both repulsive and titilating. The shrieking music got on my nerves, but maybe that's the point. Yes, the narration is way, way over the top, but then again it's obvious this film wasn't going for subtlety or realism. Don't turn the sound off, or you'll miss the incidental noises (footsteps, laughter, etc.) that really add to the nightmarish atmosphere.
Reviewer: donaldh - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 10, 2005
Subject: The Dark-ages of psychology
...have yet to pass.
Great reminder of how a lot of people still view the myth of 'madness' (or dementia as it was once called).
Great imagery and soundtrack, including the 'naration'. Without the voice-over it would have been hard to identify who the 'bad-guys' were and it might as well have been a revenge picture with a very bored heroine :-)
Reviewer: Debian Jones - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 24, 2005
Subject: DON'T Watch it with the sound down!
Even if you hate the tacked-on narration, it's pretty sporadic, and you won't want to miss the incredible score.

It turns out the George Antheil, who scored the original "Dementia" that became "Daughter of Horror", was a major American composer. Here's a page devoted to him:

In fact, you're going to want to hook up your computer to your best stereo for this one. The score can sound pretty redundant on cheap speakers, but a good stereo system can really bring out the ever-shifting textures that go on underneath the recurring theme.
Reviewer: moxey - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 4, 2005
Subject: very good
i've never seen this film until i downloaded it here.very ,very good.especially the scene in which "the john" is eating chicken.

in the film "the blob" with steve mcqueen,this movie was on the billboard of the theater in the movie.the graveyard scene is watched by the actors as well.including mr mcmahons voice over.
Reviewer: Twitchin' to tha Moldies - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2004
Subject: More Anti-Ed Sorry Ed)
I have to agree with the anti-dialogue camp, dispite the fact that the narrator is Ed McMahon.

I think that the narration robs the piece of its context, taking what is clearly a very inspired and progressive bit of filmmaking and rerendering it as background noise for teens parking at the drive-in.

Its as if a well executed painting had been hung before it was dry and then touched and smudged. Bring on the original :)
Reviewer: sonnet29 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 17, 2004
Subject: The NOIREST Movie I've ever seen!
Revered by a few, unknown to many, "Daughter of Horror" is the definition of a "cult classic". A homicidal anti-heroine is pursued through a ghastly dream world by a policeman with the face of her abusive father-- who, we learn in flashback, was her first victim. She killed him as "a little girl"-- after he killed her trampy mother.

In the words of the oniscient narrator, the intent is to "take you into the mind of woman who is mad." There is no dialogue, evoking German impressionist silents like "The Last Laugh", "Nosferatu", and especially "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari".

Unlike the previous reviewer (who flat-out hates it) I'm ambivalent toward the over-the top, lurid narration. This film was originally released under the title "Demented", without the narration, by Ed McMahon. Both versions have been released together on a recent DVD, and it may be significant that it was the original version gets top billing. I may indulge my curiosity further, as I recently acquired a DVD player. However, it seems to me that if the later, narrated version is in the Public Domain, the earlier version ought to also be in the public domain... and perhaps someone could see about adding it to the archive?

The narrator, by the way, is none other than a younger, hungrier Ed McMahon!

The nightmare/flashback sequence at the center of the film is a powerful set piece, a bona fide noir-de-force. The primal scene is reenacted like a pantomime. Props are set up in the middle of a spooky cemetery that looks real, but is probably a set.

Don't be deceived by the tiny budget. This is a long, long way from "Plan Nine From Outer Space". The sets, especially that cemetery, are cheap but evocative, and locations are used masterfully. The lighting and cinematography are often intricate and painstaking. The original music, if a little redundant, is first rate. If you can run the sound through good speakers, it'll make a big difference for your experience of the film. The featured vocalist, Marni Nixon, did the singing for Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady", and for Natalie Wood in "West Side Story". Here she trills and moans, reprises and rereprises the musical theme, and almost sounds like a human theramin. There's also an effective sequence in a jazz club, breaking the mood with some authentic fifties be-bop.
Reviewer: dynayellow - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 21, 2004
Subject: Shut up, already.
A creepy, effective silent film that someone decided needed a narrator to tell us when important things were happening.

When the film is simply left alone, it's fine, telling the tale of an insane woman wandering through night in a run-down part of town. Features some strong expressionistic scenes, and a good sense of dread. But then the Crypt Keeper feels the need to come on and tell us what is going on. We know what's going on, you drip. Shut up and let us enjoy the film.

Anyway, I'd tell you to watch with the sound off, but the score really suits the film. Just try to ignore the guy telling you how scared you should be.
Reviewer: Timedog - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 14, 2004
Subject: Rare surprise
I had this on while designing a newsletter and the other creatives kept looking over my shoulder and commenting on the strong imagery. It's really a very dynamic piece that plays well without sound.
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